US president Barack Obama has ended days of speculation about a shift in opinion on marriage equality by declaring that he thinks same-sex marriage should be legal.

He became the first sitting president to announce his support for gay marriage in an interview with Good Morning America, repeating his line that he’d undergone an “evolution” on the subject.

“I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally,” he said.

“At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

The White House had been forced into days of embarrassing spin and stalling around the issue after US vice president Joe Biden said he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex couples being allowed the same civil rights as opposite-sex couples in an interview with NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday.

Political commentators saw the comments as a precursor to a move to support full equality within the Obama Administration, and the White House press corps had been unrelenting in their questioning of Press Secretary Jay Carney about gay marriage all week.

It brings the potentially divisive issue back into play for this year’s US elections.

Yesterday, voters in the US state of North Carolina voted to ban not only same-sex marriage but legal recognition of all domestic unions outside opposite-sex marriage.

Asked about President Obama’s change of heart this morning, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she would not comment on the US election and would be taking her position of opposing gay marriage into Parliament.

“I know President Obama has made that statement,” Gillard told ABC radio station 774.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to view it myself. I’ve seen the reports of it, but no, my view hasn’t changed and when a bill comes to the parliament later this year… I won’t vote for it.”

Watch the full interview with President Obama below:

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